Fiction Friendship Romance

It is said that to be truly happy, one needs someone to love, something worthwhile to do, and something to hope for.

Someone to love. Check. My son

Something worthwhile to do. Check. Nothing more rewarding than bringing up my son.

Something to hope for. Check. Hope springs eternal. My son has ADHD, diagnosed at age 5. He survived early childhood. He could still end up dead by accident, or at my exasperated hands, or turn out to be a delinquent who ends up in prison, like his father.

My friend, Analiese, came over when we first moved to her city to help me clean the rundown place I rented. The neglected house and section had been left appalling by the previous tenant. Apart from the mess and filth in the house, the outside resembled a warzone. Other features made it ideal. A bus stop is around the corner, within walking distance of town, a shopping center is a block away, a church is within walking distance, friends are nearby, and a kindergarten and school are nearby. Perfect.

As a solo parent, I appeared to be a risk to the landlord. Still, with good references and promises to care for the gardens and lawns and tidy the property, he allowed me to rent it. I needed a house near all the amenities (having no car) and a lot of space for my active son, containing him safely within fences and a gate.

It had been kind of Analiese to help. Still, later, I realized my reciprocation outweighed the few hours she had given me. She would regularly drop off Moana, her daughter, when she had appointments and activities unsuitable for children. My son loved Moana’s company. Analiese also used me as a sounding board for the many romantic pickles she got into.

We had a few things in common. We were both young, pretty women and solo parents with one child each. I am older and had been cast as ‘big sister.’

A married friend of ours summed it up. “You are different from the other girls. Married but living solo. You are more grown up despite your similar ages. They look up to you.”


Analiese and I sat at the kitchen table with a cuppa each while the children played in the lounge. A comforting whiff of coffee filled the air.

“Kathy. I need your advice,” she said. “Do you know Mark Forester?”

“Yes, I know his parents well.”

“He wants to marry me. What am I going to do? . . .”

As usual, I heard the whole dating/courtship saga.

The time before, Analiese had solved her problem with ‘Peter’ by introducing him to Eve while she backed off in her usual cold-footed way.

“Compared to all the guys you know, where does Mark rank?” I said.

“Oh, I like him the best. He’s a lot of fun.”

“From what you’ve told me, you say this about all of them.”

“Yes . . . as friends.”

“Analiese, did you tell them at the start? If you didn’t reiterate that, wouldn’t they believe marriage may happen? They’d be miffed to see you befriending multiple guys? You break all their hearts. For goodness’ sake, tell them from the beginning that you don’t want to get married.”

She looked at me with her mouth open. “I guess it’s true. I don’t want to get married. But what if I change my mind?”

“I’ve always believed that you can tell when you meet them. You experiment with these poor guys feelings for too long.”

“Yes, I understand. That’s what happened when I met Moana’s father. . . But he turned out to be a real problem. I happily dumped him.”

“I can’t say I understand what you are talking about. I had my doubts but threw caution to the winds and married. Disastrous. I didn’t really know him beforehand. I’d advise you to not jump into bed with them or make any commitment until you get to know them.”

“Don’t worry I understand that much by now. But what about you and Gerry?”

“This will surprise you but we are not friends.”

“You, prickly pear. I thought you were.”

“I’ll tell you a story as an object lesson. I definitely am friends with the older Mark, Mark Hanson.”

“Yes, I know him well. We talked about the possibility of a relationship, one evening, and we both decided that we each have our own set of problems and it could never work.”

I concluded Mark had been the one to say this to our Analiese but said nothing.

She continued. “He’s engaged to that lady Suzanne with the three boys.”

“I’m not at liberty to tell you the whole story but our friendship came to an abrupt halt when he found out I’m married. I should have told him. I feel this is a rebound thing on his part and we have both talked about it in confidence. As a result of that, I realize it was wrong of me to have him as a friend. It is complicated. I’m not going to make the same mistake with Gerry. The other day, Gerry came to take me out. In a weak moment, I arranged for a baby sitter. We had a great time. Magical. I felt bad. I told him we can’t be friends and that I’ve already learned this the hard way. . . But he still comes here for dinner with another couple of friends on a Friday night. I’d feel mean excluding him.”

“He’s a super guy. He came and unstuck all your windows at the start of summer, sanded and painted them so they opened and shut again. He’s painted your kitchen and bathroom.”

“It’s purely a business arrangement. We get on well. That’s all. The problem is that my son Edwin hates him. He makes me promise I won’t marry Gerry. It’s fate accompli. Can never happen.”

Analiese looked deep in thought. “I hadn’t thought how Moana may feel about my different boyfriends.”

“Seriously! You need to think about it.”

“Anyway, you will be getting a divorce, won’t you?”

“Yes, I will. But he’s faraway and locked up. He said ‘no’ despite our being three years apart. I told him it was over before he went to prison. I need a lawyer to fight this thing. It’ll happen but I need to save up.”

“So, after I tell my Mark it’s over and remember to tell any new guys, ‘I don’t want to get married’, it’ll be easier?”

“Yes. Be honest from the start. But male/female relationships are still full of landmines.”

“I gotta tell you something. When I come here early in the mornings, you already have a natural beauty without makeup. I’m envious. I need makeup to look good. You bought this gorgeous place off your landlord, and have something to offer, you’re a great cook, you have a cute kid and you’re way more sensible than me. It’s a waste.”

“From someone who really doesn’t want to be married, is this advice?”

“I’m just saying.”

“My situation is complicated by my ex. I’m still married, my son looks cute, but he is difficult to handle. And my home, I don’t want to share what I have worked hard for, with just anybody. Also, I’m not just a pretty face. I need to be appreciated for who I really am.”

“From what I can see, you don’t give guys a chance.”

“Hate to say this, but you let Too Many guys get to know you.”

Analiese needed direct, albeit tactless, advice.


Our children started school within a year, and I saw less of Analiese. My neighbor, Heather, two doors down, had two little girls. They often played with Edwin, and we became close. Her useless husband left her, and she moved away into Analiese’s neighborhood. I introduced these two, and they became firm friends. Both were as bad as each other when it came to men.

We were part of an extended group of twenty to thirty-year-olds. All single and some with children. Some wanted company, while others wanted marriage. We went out in the evenings to restaurants or held parties at each other’s homes. Once, we went in older Mark’s van on a camping trip, limited to who could fit in. My son Edwin and another boy came along on this enjoyable sightseeing tour.

I discovered that Mark Hanson and I had a meeting of the minds on many things. He felt comfortable revealing many things about himself. His hard life had affected him, he admitted. Against our own better judgments, we naturally became friends.

One Friday night, several of us went to the local Greek Restaurant. I had a ball. Part of the way through the evening, the women who worked there started some Greek dancing. As I boarded with a family in my teens where the wife, my friend, came from Greece, she had taught me some of the dances. I joined in. Even led one. A memorable evening.

I noticed my friend Heather sat beside Tom, one of the guys who didn’t often join in on our events. I’d heard he was in the market for a wife but very tied up with work and his two girls who lived with him full time. His wife had left long ago. There had been a girlfriend for a few years, but she refused to marry him, dumped him, and married a single young man.

At the end of the evening, Tom offered to take Heather back to her home. I couldn’t help thinking this twosome could never work. Heather had gotten out of a marriage with a womanizing man, and I knew she wanted to stay free.

Finally, my divorce had been granted and finalized. I had a feeling of freedom and confidence.

Someone organized a party one weekend. Tom and Heather came together. Heather had decided to move to the capital with her two little girls. I promised to keep in touch with her and said I’d visit her when passing. I regularly visited my family and traveled through the capital on the way there and back. Edwin and I could break our trip and catch up with our friends.

That evening, Tom and I spoke together. I told him about my very active son’s escapades. Before his marriage, he had been with another woman and her four young sons and reckoned he had become an expert on boys. He had a complicated work schedule and organized childcare for his daughters. His plans included settling down sometime. He offered to take Edwin off my hands when he went on excursions with his girls as he enjoyed including other children.

As I planned to visit family for about a month, I said I would call him when we returned. A break from Edwin would be welcome. He invited Edwin to spend the following Saturday with him and his girls when he visited friends in another town. An overnight visit.

Edwin could generally be trusted to behave on a first occasion. I warned Tom about Edwin’s ability to change to ‘revolting’ in seconds. New and exciting surroundings sometimes removed his urge for mischief and mayhem. Off he went, and his report read well on his return. I promised to let Tom know when we arrived home after our holiday.

After visiting various family members for about a month, Edwin and I caught the train to the capital. The first stage of our journey home.

Heather and her girls, Bridey and Sarah, picked us up. They lived on a hill overlooking the town in a cute complex of modular apartments with round windows. A novelty for Edwin. We spent a glorious few days talking, seeing the sights, and talking more. I heard Tom had driven there with our friend Analiese and her daughter for a weekend visit the week before. Interesting. Given this revelation, I kept silent about Tom offering to take Edwin off my hands at times. Helen revealed that it had been better to move away as she and Tom would never be together. She had made up her mind. “He still has Analiese.”

“Well, good luck to him with her,” I said, feigning a smile.

The train ride home, made worse by Edwin’s hellish behavior, left me exhausted. Other passengers asked me to stop him running all around the carriage like a toy bunny fueled with super-powered batteries. As if I could.

The following day, I found out why the antics. He had spots erupting all over his body. Chickenpox. We stayed home all week while he recuperated. I unpacked and settled back into my home while dabbing him with calamine and bathing him in water laced with pinetarsol solution. I rang up a few friends, informing them I had returned. By the week’s end, Edwin and I had seen enough of each other and felt stir-crazy.

I remembered Tom and rang him. “Hi, Tom this is Kathy. Kathy with Edwin.”

“Oh, hello. You are back.”

“Yes, it’s been a week but Edwin has been getting over a bout of Chicken Pox. We’ve gone nowhere and he’s been off school. We are sick of the sight of each other.”

“I’m planning to take my girls to the park in town. I can pick him up on the way.”

“Sounds great.”

What a relief!

By the time Tom and the girls arrived, it had started to rain. My heart sank.

I opened the door to greet them.

“Look, change of plan,” he said. “There is a Movie on called The Never-ending Story. The children will love it.”

“That’s a great idea. Not ideal Park weather. I’m sure Edwin will enjoy it but he has a job sitting still. Could I go along as well?”

Tom looked at me with his eyes wide open and smiled. I couldn’t tell if he was surprised or happy about my request.

It was a great movie! How did it feel? Like we had gone out as a family. I wasn’t sure if I liked that feeling.

Afterward, we walked back to the car. “What about we go out for dinner,” he said.

Three bouncing children replied, “Yes, lets!”

I couldn’t object. It was the kind of blind date I hadn’t expected. The children virtually arranged it.

Tom and the girls had gone to The Oxford restaurant before. It served sumptuous roast meals.

Little Chloe couldn’t take her coat off as she had worn a summer dress that day and felt cold. Older Anne grabbed my faux fur jacket and donned it. “I love this,” she said and walked down the aisle is if it was a runway.

Tom sat opposite me and fixed his warm blue eyes on mine. I knew what he was thinking. I blinked and shook my head.

“Are you alright?” we asked each other in unison.

We both laughed. I kept quiet in case I jinxed it.

“This has been lovely, hasn’t it? I’d like to do this again.”

The children finished their meals and trotted away to explore without annoying the other guests.

Something felt very right about Tom and the girls.

When he dropped us home, I felt I had known him much longer than just our few conversations and this space of an afternoon.

I didn’t hear from him for about three weeks. Not even a phone call. It seemed strange, but I concluded there must be a good reason and shrugged it off.

Out of the blue, he rang me up one morning and invited me out for lunch. What a lovely surprise for Valentine’s Day. He brought flowers.

The place specializes in different kinds of soups. Quite an education for me, who rarely ate lunch out.

It turned out to be romantic. We could speak without the children around.

“I want you to know,” I said. “That I’m not just a pretty face.” No romantic innuendos from me.

He laughed. “When we were at the Greek restaurant and I saw you get up and dance, I knew that.”

“I mean . . . I’m not like Heather and Analiese.”

“I know what you mean. You are more serious. I like that. And I fell in love with your long golden hair before I ever saw your face.”

What could I say to all that? I pinched myself hard. Dutifully, I warned him about my son. It would take an exceptional man to manage with him. “And I understand about stepchildren. I have been a stepchild. I realize that a stepparent is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They will always be in the wrong.”

“We’ll be in the same boat then won’t we. Yours and mine together.”

“And I want to take this slowly. Children need time to adjust. Especially my son.”

“I’m not one to take things slowly but I understand what you are saying about the children.”

“It can be unsettling for children to never know how long another woman may be around . . . I’m finding this already rather quick, despite the weeks I didn’t hear from you.”

“Points taken . . . I had something I had to deal with. Sorry if you were waiting for me to call.”

“I’m not like that.”

“I actually believe you.” He smiled and shook his head. “You are so different to what I expected. There’s more to you than meets the eye . . . More than ever, I want a never-ending story for us.”

This guy was good. Romantic to a fault.

“As I said, I’m not like Analiese.” When I said that, he looked down. I didn’t want to remind him about his trip to the capital with her the previous month.

The End . . .no, I mean, ‘The Beginning’. . .

February 14, 2024 19:20

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Mary Bendickson
21:21 Feb 14, 2024

Lots of detailed characters and storylines for what I perceive as a difficult prompt. Nice job.


02:56 Feb 15, 2024

Thanks for reading, as always, Mary. If you read what I replied to Stella you will understand what a problem I had. Thanks for liking. I know I cut it short but I tried to round it off as best I could.


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Chrissy Cook
03:06 Feb 22, 2024

I found this to be a tough read because I generally find mother characters to be so unlikeable, but I think you did a good job giving her a character arc in such a short space! I think if you ever expand it into the full proposal idea, I'd love to hear more of Edwin's perspective, as he's sort of both the center of the story and absent all at once. Tough prompt, but I think you got there in the end. :)


01:30 Feb 23, 2024

Thanks Chrissy. Mothers unlikeable? Someone else also thought it was a tough prompt. Never thought about it. It seemed to fit best with the story. The follow on one, complete in its own right, is about the same character and fits the 'proposal' prompt. Not so much about Edwin due to the word limit. It is more about the girls. Funny you mentioned Edwin. I have another two stories about Edwin. 'The Boy Who Couldn't Read Emotions' and 'A Criminal Act.' Mother has a different name but it's the same character. There's a bit more about him in 'He...


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11:03 Feb 21, 2024

Kathy was driven by cynicism, may be because, of her past relationship with her ex. But, the best thing in your character(Kathy) that interested me, that, she was a caring mother, who does self-assessment, in the opening(of the story)~ Someone to love. Check. My son Something worthwhile to do. Check. Nothing more rewarding than bringing up my son. Something to hope for. Check. Hope springs eternal. At times, she also gave the minute details of her son's needs(behavior, likes etc) to her male friend(Tom) to avoid any discomfort to him(Edwi...


20:01 Feb 21, 2024

Thanks for your comments, Priceless. I like writing about women characters who have complicated backstories. If you want an inkling into the kind of background I imagine Kathy had, the story 'My Helpful Friend' is interesting. People like Kathy may be like the big sister to their friends, but who do they go to when they need guidance or someone to off load on? The story makes comments on how domestic violence affected one tortured woman and the friend who 'helped' her. I hope you meant, Tom (Not Tony). I'm sure I didn't mix up the names. Do...


06:18 Feb 22, 2024

Keep up with it(women oriented stories)👍


01:37 Feb 23, 2024

Most of my stories (except for the cat stories LOL) are about women characters. Thanks for the support.


08:18 Feb 23, 2024

You're welcome.


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06:20 Feb 21, 2024

Great character development here, Kaitlyn!


06:39 Feb 21, 2024

Thank you, Melissa.


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Danie Holland
21:30 Feb 17, 2024

A great voice with this, very conversational. I loved that by the end the MC was willing to give things a shot. I’ve been a single mom, so I really resonated with her mindset. Having to worry over a child, it can leave you feeling older than you are and saying no to life and chances because it’s not just your life you’re taking chances with. I really liked how these relationships went. Leaning on friends and opening up to each other about relationships and including the children. A great read, thank you!!!


06:38 Mar 09, 2024

Thanks so much for your reply Danie. Just read it. Sorry for the delay.


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Helen A Smith
08:17 Feb 15, 2024

An enjoyable read of interweaving lives. It was interesting discovering how different everyone was in their experience of love. I thought you touched upon the minefield of male/female friendships and relationships well. I was willing the outcome to be be good for Kathy who had a lot of depth. She had so much to think about with her son. It would “take an exceptional man to manage with him.” A lot of layers which gave it added depth. The character’s lives interweaved and went on different paths the way life does. It worked well.


10:21 Feb 15, 2024

Thanks for the encouraging comments, Helen. Kathy is supposed to be 'cynical' but I preferred the idea of her being cynical but maybe having lots of reasons to be that way and a deep thinker, considerate of others.


Helen A Smith
10:29 Feb 15, 2024

Kathy is a great character. She makes some of the other women seem a bit superficial.


22:52 Feb 15, 2024

A bit? Thanks for your observations.


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Alexis Araneta
00:12 Feb 15, 2024

I loved this, Kaitlyn! Lots of rich details. The flow of this was also very well-executed. Great job. Hopefully, things work out for Tom and Kathy.


02:53 Feb 15, 2024

Thanks for liking. Actually I wrote this story intending it to be for the prompt about the proposal but ran out of space to do the story justice. Jettisoned over 200 words and went with the Valentine/blind date idea which probably comes across as a bit of an after thought. Best I could do. In case you'd like to know what I had in mind: The proposal was gong to go horribly wrong but is salvaged after Tom and Kathy discuss it. The cause - Analiese, of course. The reason Tom didn't contact Kathy for a few weeks was of course breaking up with An...


Alexis Araneta
03:17 Feb 15, 2024

Oh my ! Great idea there. That sort of reminds me of one of the plot points of a Korean film called The Classic where, spoiler alert, the female protagonist thinks the male protagonist is into a more assertive friend of hers when it's actually her (the friend) making advances on him. I'm naturally a verbose person, so I get the struggle of trimming down a story. I think the story worked really well, though!


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